Take Her Name With Youhttps://i1.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/FB_IMG_1544405284622-01.jpeg?fit=960%2C540&ssl=1960540Jamie RedgateJamie Redgatehttps://i1.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/profile.png?fit=70%2C96&ssl=1
At the back of Adam’s house after the funeral, where he should have seen his shed and the fence and his neighbours through their windows all drying their eyes and thanking God that they’d been the ones to put their children (who hadn’t understood the coffin their size and the hole in the ground to hide in) to sleep, where Adam would have seen, on a different night, a whole happy street’s neat gridded gardens and the supermarket’s beatific light up the hill, there had grown instead a terrible wall of dark and tangled trees, so green they were black, so tall you couldn’t see where their grip on the sky stopped, even lying on your back on the grass as Adam did then, with the bottle to his face like a telescope and the rope he’d googled how to knot.
It took a very long time for Adam to carve
EMMA-LOUISE 2017 – 2018
into the trunk of the tree that grew at his garden’s ragged new edge, slicing into the baby-smooth bark with the sharp end of the snapped bottle and blowing away the gouged wood, slicing and blowing, until her name looked like no one would ever get it wrong again.
It was inevitable of course that Adam should notice his father’s name on a tree a little further into the forest, and his grandparents’ and all their siblings’ and their parents and their siblings in a scattered huddle beyond, and beside them and behind them: an endless more, names Adam had forgotten, names after a while that he never knew. Adam walked and walked and watched as the forest grew steadily thinner, as the names so far from his door started to slough off in the breeze of his passing and float in front of his eyes like fallout. Adam watched one until it settled to paint the ground a little whiter between the few skeletal trees still standing, with names on their trunks you knew from school, perhaps, or from the things that people say.
Adam walked until at last the ground underfoot turned to hard and bare rock, to where no more trees grew, where there was nowhere and nothing and no-one more to read, and it might have seemed to him like paradise if he hadn’t come this way.
Jamie received his PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow in 2018. His book Wallace and I is forthcoming from Routledge. He has had fiction and essays published in Electric Literature, Bandit Fiction, with the Scottish Book Trust, and elsewhere. His story, ‘Letters to Nowhere,’ won third prize in the 2018 Imprint Writing Award.